When I sneak into the classroom at Luleå University of Technology are the Filipino teachers in the midst of tutoring the students.
– They interact very well. It makes our work easier and more fun, says Noel Sadicon, teacher of industrial design at Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila.
The LTU students works on developing an environment, product or service that can make life easier for people in the Philippines. The assignment is based on the method of Human-Centered Design.
– The students are very interested and inquisitive, says his colleague Maria Socorro Gacutan who teach architecture.
A teachers exchange takes now place between LTU and Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila in the Philippines. The exchange program called Linnaeus-Palme is funded by the International Programme Office in Sweden. The collaboration is about increasing internationalization and the initiative was taken by the Division of Innovation and Design at LTU.
Why did you choose the Philippines?
– Asia is becoming world leading. Being a part of that development is very important for us, our students and LTU, says Åsa Wikberg Nilsson, who teaches industrial design.
– It may be the future labor market, continues Bengt Holmqvist, also a teacher of industrial design.
Next step a student exchange
Åsa Wikberg Nilsson and Bengt Holmqvist visited Mapua Institute of Technology this autumn. Now it's their turn to act hosts. The next step in the partnership is a student exchange. If that becomes a reality is unclear at the moment. But Maria Socorro Gacutan and Noel Sadicon are hopeful.
– I look forward to have your students come to us, and ours to experience Sweden – but I'm worried that they will be noisy, says Noel Sadicon who have reflected on how peaceful and quiet it is at LTU. All laughs but he quickly lowers his voice and becomes serious.
– I want our students to get to interact with a different culture, to be challenged and inspired. It would give them confidence, change their way of thinking and affect their work and design. I feel excited when I think of all the stories they will tell when they get back to the Philippines.
New knowledge on several levels
Maria Socorro Gacutan and Noel Sadicon are fascinated by LTU's large and well-equipped facilities, but from a pedagogical perspective Åsa Wikberg Nilsson believe that closeness between students and teachers in the Philippine school creates better conditions for learning.
– They are almost like a family. There is a tremendous openness and community. Grades are mixed and students and teachers interact privately, explains Bengt Holmqvist.
What other experience do you take with you from this?
– In design it is important to get new input. To change the thinking and not just do things as they always have been done. When you come to a new context this process starts, you begin to question, says Åsa Wikberg Nilsson.
– You also learn to look at your own environment in a different way. For example, when it began to rain and Soc and Noel said "What cold rain you have." I had never thought of before, says Bengt Holmqvist.
Text: Melina Granberg , main editor at Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences